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Saint Mark the Evangelist


[1] Coptic icon of Saint Mark

Evangelist, Martyr
Born 1st century AD, Libya, according to one tradition, or perhaps Palestine
Died AD, Alexandria
Venerated in Oriental Orthodox Church, Byzantine Church, Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Anglican Church, Lutheran Church and some other Protestant Churches
Major shrine Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral (Cairo, Egypt)
Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral (Alexandria, Egypt)
Basilica di San Marco (Venice, Italy)
Feast April 25
Attributes Lion in the desert; bishop on a throne decorated with lions; man helping Venetian sailors; man holding a book with "pax tibi Marce" written on it; man holding a palm and book; man with a book or scroll accompanied by a winged lion; man with a halter around his neck; man writing or holding his gospel; rescuing Christian slaves from Saracens.
Patronage Barristers, Venice, and others; see [2]


Mark the Evangelist (Hebrew: מרקוס; Greek: Μάρκος; Arabic: مرقص; Coptic: 1st century), is the traditional name of the author of the Gospel of Mark. Tradition identifies him with the John Mark mentioned as a companion of Saint Paul in Acts, who later is said to have become a disciple of Saint Peter. John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas (Mark's kinsman) on Paul's first missionary journey. After a sharp dispute, Barnabas separated from Paul, taking Mark to Cyprus. Later, Paul called upon the services of Mark and Mark was named as Paul's fellow worker.

His feast day is celebrated on 25 April, the anniversary of his martyrdom. Mark is also believed by various traditions to be the first bishop of Alexandria and thus the founder of the Church in Alexandria and of Christianity in Africa. In Coptic tradition he is identified as the first Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. His evangelistic symbol is the lion.


Biblical and Traditional InfomationEdit

According to the Coptic church, Saint Mark was born in the Pentapolis of North Africa. This tradition adds that he returned to Pentapolis later in life after being sent by Saint Paul to Colosse (Colossians 4:10) and serving with him in Rome (Phil 24; 2 Tim 4:11) ; from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria.

Mark of the Pauline Epistles is specified as a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10); this would explain Barnabas' special attachment to the Mark of Acts over whom he disputed with Paul (Acts 15:37-40). Mark's mother was a prominent member of the earliest group of Christians in Jerusalem. It was to her house that Peter turned on his release from prison; the house was a meeting-place for the brethren, "many" of whom were praying there on the night Peter arrived from prison (Acts 12:12-17). Evidence for Mark's authorship of the Gospel that bears his name originates with Papias.A number of traditions have built up around Mark, though none can be verified from the New Testament. It is suggested by some that Mark was one of the servants at the Marriage at Cana who poured out the water that Jesus turned to wine (John 2:1-11). Mark is also said to have been one of the Seventy Apostles sent out by Christ (Luke 10:1), the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13), the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52), the one who hosted the disciples in his house after the death of Jesus and into whose house the resurrected Jesus Christ came (John 20). When Mark returned to Alexandria, the people there are said to have resented his efforts to turn them away from the worship of their traditional Egyptian gods. In AD 68 they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead.


Fate Remains Edit

In 828, relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria by two Venetian merchants and were taken to Venice, where the Byzantine Theodore of Amasea had previously been the patron saint. A basilica was built there to house the relics.

There is a mosaic on this Venetian basilica showing how the sailors covered the body relics with a layer of pork. Since Muslims are not allowed to touch pork, this action was done to prevent Muslim intervention in the relics removal.

Copts believe that the head of the saint remained in Alexandria. Every year, on the 30th day of the month of Babah, the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates the commemoration of the consecration of the church of St. Mark, and the appearance of the head of the saint in the city of Alexandria.

This takes place inside St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria, where the saint's head is preserved.

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day on (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, January 4 currently falls on of the modern Gregorian Calendar).

In 1063, during the construction of a new basilica in Venice, St. Mark's relics could not be found. However, according to tradition, in 1094 the saint himself revealed the location of his remains by extending an arm from a pillar. The newfound remains were placed in a sarcophagus in the basilica. [3]In June 1968, Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria sent an official delegation to Rome to receive a relic of St. Mark from Pope Paul VI. The delegation consisted of ten metropolitans and bishops, seven of whom were Coptic and three Ethiopian, and three prominent Coptic lay leaders.

The relic was said to be a small piece of bone that had been given to the Roman pope by Giovanni Cardinal Urbani, Patriarch of Venice. Pope Paul, in an address to the delegation, said that the rest of the relics of the saint remained in Venice.

The delegation received the relic on , 1968. The next day, the delegation celebrated a pontifical liturgy in the Church of Saint Athanasius the Apostolic in Rome. The metropolitans, bishops, and priests of the delegation all served in the liturgy. Members of the Roman papal delegation, Copts who lived in Rome, newspaper and news agency reporters, and many foreign dignitaries attended the liturgy.

In the book The Lost Tomb of Alexander, historian Andrew Chugg argues that the relics of St. Mark in Venice are actually those of Alexander the Great. Few historians, however, accept this claim.


See AlsoEdit

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